For most authors, an idea sparks from personal experiences, as it’s easiest to speak from the heart.
For Santa Clarita author Gina Wileman, that was exactly the case with her recently published book, “My Twisted Life In Middle School: Best Friends & Bullies,” which focuses on bullying, specifically due to food allergies, food intolerances, dyslexia or other learning issues.
Wileman’s son was chronically ill as a child, with severe asthma and a number of food allergies, which led her to the decision to homeschool him.
“It was the best decision I could have ever made because I fell in love with teaching,” she said.
Wileman started instructing a few classes in 2003, as she discovered her passion for teaching, while also discovering she had mild dyslexia.
“It was totally undiagnosed until I became a parent,” Wileman said. “When I found out, I decided I should help kids who have dyslexia and other learning issues.”
She continued on this path until 2013, when her son began school at Trinity Classical Academy, and she returned to teaching a few years later to start Eureka Tutoring.
It was before every tutoring session when she would hear her students’ stories that the idea for her book was born.
“I listen to their stories a few minutes a day before their tutoring begins … and occasionally bullying would come up,” Wileman said.
Wileman had also been bullied in school, and though she was never physically hurt, it didn’t make her any less afraid, she said.
“So when my students would tell me about being bullied themselves … I would get a lump in my throat because I totally understood the pain,” she added. “My heart broke over the fear that I would see in these children’s eyes.”
It was then that she was inspired to write a book about bullying, whether at home or in school, to help those who’d struggled like she had.
“We know that bullying is an issue … that’s what I appreciated about it was that she not only deals with the very real issue, but she brought out that it sometimes can even happen among siblings, and how that has an effect on children,” said James Rene, executive pastor at Higher Vision Church in Valencia. “I thought she did a really good job in a very creative way of just addressing a lot of the common issues.”
Making it come to life
“The Lord nudged me to write this book,” Wileman added. “Every time I hesitated, I felt like the Lord said, ‘You need to write this book.’”
It was also her students who continued to motivate her, as she’d share an excerpt with them and could see their excitement to read it.
“If nobody else in the entire world reads this book, I will be happy knowing that my students will read it,” she said.
“It’s a passion project … and it just came pouring out of my heart,” Wileman said.
Through the book, the main character learns to connect with God, leaning on him in times of struggle.
“The main character … learns that you don’t have to have perfect prayers, and God will listen to you,” she added. “That’s the whole thread woven throughout the entire book about how kids who are suffering and feel like they’re alone can still lean on God, who is there for them no matter what.”
Wileman specifically used God, making the book universal to any religion.
“it doesn’t matter if they’re Muslim or Christian, what matters is they believe in God, a higher power, and children will know that they don’t have to be alone,” she said.
“I have dropped off my books to my students’ families, and they’re using these to read together as a discussion tool, and it’s so exciting because that was my whole goal,” Wileman said. “Every time I hear that this story has helped. It just makes me so happy.”
“I think, from my perspective, it’s not only helpful for kids that might be experiencing it, but it gives some insight to parents as well,” Rene added. “I think she did a great job and it’s going to be a great resource.”
Now, Wileman hopes to continue spreading that message, getting her book into the hands of pastors, churches and schools.
“My goal is to get as many families to read this book as possible so that children will not be afraid and they will not feel alone,” she added.